A Look at the Top Bills of this Legislative Session

Marcos Lopez

Can you believe we are halfway through the legislative session? Just about every bill that will be introduced this session has been, but with 951 different pieces of proposed legislation, which are the best of the best?

Nevada Policy has ranked what it considers to be the top 10 bills of the 82nd Nevada Legislative Session. We will look at the first five today and the second five tomorrow.

Top 10 Best Overall Bills
1. Senate Bill 136 – State of Emergency Powers Reform
2. Senate Bill 130 – State of Emergency Powers Reform
3. Assembly Bill 103 – State of Emergency Power Reform
4. Senate Bill 200 – Education Savings Accounts
5. Senate Bill 399 – Universal License Recognition
6. Senate Bill 220 – Opportunity Scholarships
7. Assembly Bill 400 – Governor’s Education Reform Omnibus
8. Senate Bill 405 – Governor’s Election Reform Omnibus Bill
9. Assembly Bill 402 Codifying Governor Lombardo’s Occupational Licensing Executive Orders
10. Senate Bill 193 – Commerce Tax Threshold Increase

1. Senate Bill 136 – State of Emergency Powers Reform
Introduced by: Sen. Lisa Krasner (R-Senate District 13)
Co-Sponsors: Sens. Pete Goicoechea, Robin Titus, Carrie Buck, Ira Hansen, Heidi Seevers Gansert, Jeff Stone
Summary: SB136 would reform emergency powers so that a state of emergency or declaration of disaster proclaimed by the governor would end automatically after 30 days unless the legislature approves its continuance. The governor would not be able to declare a new state of emergency or disaster for the same occurrence without legislative approval if the previous one has ended. If the governor’s exercise of emergency power would restrict a business’s operation, the governor could not take such action without legislative approval.

During the COVID pandemic, Nevada experienced the consolidation of legislative and executive powers in the hands of one person without any appropriate checks and balances. It struck at the very core principles of democratic governance.

Gov. Steve Sisolak took it upon himself to regulate everything from the number of family members Nevadans could spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with, to what kinds of businesses were permitted to stay open and even the manner in which churches could operate. We must ensure that no individual again wields that power unchecked.

Senate Bill 136 would give Nevada will have a mechanism in place to ensure that the governor’s exercise of emergency powers is not arbitrary or excessive and that it is subject to legislative oversight. The importance of this type of legislation can’t be understated.

It is disheartening that the issue has become political, but also not surprising. The halls in Carson City are filled with petty tyrants who increasingly believe that which is not allowed is forbidden and that which is approved must be compulsory.

What makes SB136 unique to the other emergency powers reforms bills introduced is its explicit prohibition of enacting business decrees without approval of the legislature. Nevadans may never go through another crisis like COVID-19, but for future generations we should learn and provide protection against such overreach.

2. Senate Bill 130 – State of Emergency Powers Reform
Introduced by: Sen. Robin Titus (R-Senate District 17)
Co-Sponsors: Sens. Robin Titus, Carrie Buck, Lisa Krasner, Ira Hansen, Jeff Stone
Summary: SB136 would require that a state of emergency or declaration of disaster proclaimed by the governor terminate automatically after 30 days if the exercise of emergency power by the governor imposes requirements or restrictions on the operation of a business in the state unless the legislature expressly approves a continuance. SB136 would empower boards of county commissioners to evaluate certain emergency orders or regulations made by the governor related to public health and issue orders that are less stringent than those imposed by the governor if they determine that the full scope of the order is not necessary to protect public health. Such orders prevail in that county to the extent of any conflict with the governor’s emergency order or regulation.

While SB136 and SB130 share language, SB130 introduces language empowering county boards to issue restrictions lesser than the governor in exchange for weaker immediate protections for businesses by allowing business restrictions to go into effect for at least 30 days without legislative approval and not barring repeatedly using the same reasoning to enact a state of emergency without legislative approval. For these reasons we ranked it as the weaker bill of the two, but nonetheless passage would represent a balancing of state power through checks and balances.

3. Assembly Bill 103 – State of Emergency Powers Reform
Introduced by: Assemblywoman Jill Dickman (R-Assembly District 31)
Co-Sponsors: Sen. Robin Titus
Summary: AB103 would require that a state of emergency or declaration of disaster proclaimed by the governor would automatically end after 60 days unless the legislature approves its continuance. If the state of emergency or disaster terminates, the governor cannot subsequently proclaim it again for the same occurrence or threatened occurrence without legislative approval. Additionally, the governor cannot declare a business as essential or non-essential without the express approval of the legislative commission or legislature.

AB130 also requires any approved regulation imposing requirements or restrictions on businesses to be uniformly applied to all businesses operating in the state, regardless of their type or the product or service provided.

AB103 differs from the aforementioned bills by doubling the time an emergency order can remain in place without legislative approval and demands all restrictions applied to businesses be uniformly applied while preventing the distinction between essential and nonessential without legislative approval. The ideal emergency powers legislation would incorporate elements of all three bills into one, but AB103 highlights an important lesson from the pandemic – the governor alone should not declare an individual’s livelihood nonessential.

In future times of crisis, we can reasonably expect this distinction to return unless we make the change while the sting is still in recent memory. The reality is that while you might think your neighbor’s job to be non-essential, your job will always be essential to you. We cannot forget how this distinction brought with it significant impact on businesses and their employees, with some being deemed essential and allowed to continue operating while others were forced to close. This led Nevada to have the most job losses and highest unemployment in the country.

The incorporation of AB103’s provisions can help prevent this distinction from being made without legislative approval and ensure that all restrictions applied to businesses would be uniformly applied, with no business would be deemed essential or non-essential without the express approval of the legislature. This would ensure that businesses and their employees are treated fairly during times of crisis, and it would reduce the risk of economic hardship and job loss for those deemed non-essential.

4. Senate Bill 200 – Universal Education Savings Accounts
Introduced by: Sen. Scott Hammond (R-Senate District 18)
Summary: SB200 would enact Universal Education Savings Accounts, or ESAs, allowing parents to withdraw their children from public schools and receive 90 percent of the funds that would normally be allocated towards the student for educational expenses, such as private school tuition, tutoring and homeschooling materials. The funds are held in an account managed by the state and can be used to pay for a variety of educational expenses.

Senate Bill 200 is unlikely to be seen on the governor’s desk this session, but its introduction is important and must continue until is enacted.

Universal Education Savings Accounts have been the great heartbreak of the school choice movement in Nevada. These days most of us forget that Nevada was the first state in the country to enact Education Savings Accounts and ground zero for a movement that State Sen. Scott Hammond helped launch.

While the lack of political courage by former Gov. Sandoval quashed the optimism to save the program through a special session, this revolutionary concept is slowly taking over the country with Florida recently becoming the sixth state to enact Universal Education Savings Accounts (five others have Restricted Education Savings Accounts).

Our neighbors to the east, Utah and Arizona, are already experiencing great success with it.

Opponents of reforming the current monopoly system (teachers unions) will continue to vigorously resist the change as they fear if parents have a say in the matter, they might not want to fund their failing model.

No student should remain trapped in an unsatisfactory school just to ensure the public school system receives more tax revenue. The entire concept of public education needs to change from the failed 20th century one-size-fits-all public school-centered model to a 21st century concept of education individualized to the students’ needs and achieved through multiple competing models.

Gov. Lombardo campaigned on school choice and while he has been relatively quiet on ESAs this session, I would expect them to return to the fray if the 2024 election cycle goes well.

5. Senate Bill 399 – Universal License Recognition
Introduced by: Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Senate District 20)
Summary: SB399 would revise the requirements for obtaining a license by endorsement for certain professions in Nevada. Instead of requiring the regulatory body to adopt regulations, a license by endorsement will be issued to certain applicants who meet the criteria of being a resident of Nevada; holding a valid and unrestricted license for at least one year in another state or territory; meeting the educational and experience requirements; and not having voluntarily surrendered any license while under investigation.

Nevada is experiencing great growth, ranking No. 11 for net in-migration for 2022 and have seen more than 400,000 people move here in the past 10 years. That’s more than 400,000 new talents, experiences and perspectives to enrich our state if we allow them to.

For far too long Nevada has been ranked as the worst state for occupational licensing for lower- to lower-middle income professions. These are the jobs that help people climb the economic ladder and create generational wealth. By allowing ourselves to hand our regulatory regime over to incumbent industries under the guise of safety and quality, we have been hurting new and established Nevadans alike by actively impoverishing ourselves through the stifling of people who want to enter new fields or practice the skills they brought with them.

Senate Bill 399 would make Nevada competitive with our neighbors (Arizona, Idaho and Utah already have this in place) for talent and give our new residents the ability to contribute to their full potential. By recognizing out of state licenses, we can attract top tier talent and enable those with the skills and knowledge to do what they do best. This is the new gold standard in Nevada for occupational licensing reform and would no doubt help raise incomes across the board.

Marcos Lopez

Marcos Lopez

Policy Fellow

Marcos Lopez serves as a Policy Fellow for Nevada Policy. For over a decade, Marcos has fought to advance free-market principles, limited government, and secure individual rights through electioneering, lobbying, and grassroots mobilization at all levels of government across nine states and Washington D.C.

Originally from Miami, Marcos moved to Nevada in 2015 and has lived in Reno and Las Vegas, where he currently resides. His main areas of focus include economic opportunity, criminal justice reform, and school choice. Marcos’ work and efforts have been recognized and featured in The New York Times, The Las Vegas Review Journal, The Nevada Independent, This is Reno, and The Nevada Current.